By Laura Michaels
Could there come a day when consumers confine themselves to their homes, binge-watching “Orange Is the New Black” and only opening the door to quickly snatch an Amazon order from the front stoop?
Denny Marie Post hopes not—but if that day should come she still wants those reclusive couch potatoes to be just a few clicks away from their Royal Red Robin burger and Voodoo Fries.
Post, who is CEO of Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews, said Red Robin doesn’t intend to fall behind in the digital race for consumers.
The company partnered with Olo to bring online ordering to redrobin.com, so customers could place orders with a similar level of customization that matches the restaurant experience—plus a specific pick-up time and the ability to prepay for those orders. Late last year the company signed on with DoorDash to offer delivery from 70-plus locations and Red Robin is also testing GrubHub and Amazon, bringing the total number of restaurants with third-party delivery to 138 out of the company’s 550.
“Our goal is for it to complement or expand our reach, not take the place of in-restaurant dining,” said Post about online ordering. “But, ultimately, if our guests are going there, we have to be there. It’s pretty simple—you’re going to be out of business if you’re not there.
Orders made using the web, a mobile app or text message accounted for 1.9 billion foodservice visits last year, reported research firm The NPD Group, an 18 percent increase. Consumers most frequently order their dinner digitally, a trend Red Robin, with its burger-heavy menu, expects to take advantage of.
Digital ordering, said Olo founder and CEO Noah Glass, can help level the playing field of convenience for a restaurant such as Red Robin, which competes in the burger segment with fast food.
“Red Robin can sort of present a new service model where they can credibly say to consumers that now because you can order and pay ahead and it’s ready when you arrive, Red Robin gourmet burgers are faster to get than even a McDonald’s burger,” said Glass. “That’s a really cool value proposition.
Red Robin is marketing the ability to order online most heavily to its 6 million Red Robin Royalty members, while also using banner ad placement and targeted Facebook ads to give potential customers an immediate way to act when mealtime rolls around.
The integration of digital technology “is our No. 1 strategic growth strategy heading into 2017 and beyond,” said Jason Rusk, Red Robin’s VP of alternative platforms. His is a role that encompasses “anything off premise,” one of the few, if not only, segments of casual dining that’s growing.”
How they deliver Red Robin to wherever the customer happens to be could be catering, third-party delivery, mobile or to-go. “Olo is step one,” Rusk said.
The myth that burgers don’t travel well is one that “needs to be busted,” he said.